Celebrating 50 Years of the Film West Side Story

2011 is the year of West Side Story.  First, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the release of the Oscar-winning film starring Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Russ Tamblyn, George Chakiris, and Rita Moreno.  To commemorate this milestone, Turner Classic Movies sponsored screenings of the 1961 film in theatres across the country.  Before the actual film, interviews with cast members and crew were shown.  The interviews gave some interesting insight into the making of the film:

  • George Chakiris played Riff in the London stage production of West Side Story and auditioned for the role for the film.  He ended up playing Bernardo.
  • The actors from both the Jets and the Sharks were encouraged to have a friendly rivalry off-camera to increase tensions for filming.
  • When told that her singing parts would be dubbed by Marni Nixon, Natalie Wood was not happy over the idea.
  • Making the film itself was a risk considering the fact that Hollywood was no longer making as many musicals at that time.

Also, on this season of Glee, one of the storylines focuses on some of the members of the New Directions starring in a production for McKinley High.  The actors pull off great performances of songs from the classic musical but the standout performance has to go to Santana (Naya Rivera) as Anita singing “America”.

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